Wander down beside the school dining centre and through the large, ornate iron gates and you will discover an amazing area of Charlton Manor - Our Secret Garden - which is the heart of school life. It fulfils a multitude of roles providing an outdoor learning resource, a place for quiet contemplation, a play area, an area to produce food, a haven for wildlife, and a focus for pride at what has been achieved over the years.
From its inception in 2005, pupils have been at the heart of the garden project. Working with landscape architects they drew up their wish list and saw their ideas develop from a derelict, overgrown area into a workable design and fully functional garden that includes a wildlife pond area, bird hide with cameras, heated greenhouse, teaching and seating areas, raised beds, fruit, herb and vegetable growing areas, composting facilities, bees and chickens.
All pupils play a key role in developing and maintaining Our Secret Garden, alongside the school gardener, in daily, lunch time gardening sessions, after school gardening clubs and during class time. Many pupils do not have access to a garden at home so this provides them with that outdoor opportunity and for everyone to get their hands dirty, to grow their own and understand where food comes from.
Over the last few years Our Secret Garden has continually evolved to enrich teaching and learning at the school including participation in RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Capel Manor Gardens Show, Bexley in Bloom plus Coolings Centenary Horticultural Show and Capital Growth Harvest-ometer Challenge. Working closely with Woodlands Farm we also have our own allotment plot for growing additional produce. Our chickens keep us all busy and give the pupils opportunity to collect and eat fresh eggs whilst our observation bee hive allows the pupils to see the bees at work in the hive. This gives them real insight into the vital role that bees have to play in pollination and the pupils take an active role in looking after the bees. Charlton Manor honey is areal bonus for all our pupils, staff and parents.
Charlton Manor pupils travelled to Germany in 2014 to assist in the planning and development of a new school garden at Mittelschule Schelitz, Bavaria and closer to home have been working on a new community garden project at Woodlands Farm with horticulturalist Chris Collins.
Looking ahead, we’re always hoping for a bumper crop of fruit and vegetables which are cooked and consumed in our dining centre kitchen, cooking lessons in our fully functional teaching kitchen and for produce sales in our ‘Sweet Pickings’ shop.
At Charlton Manor we are passionate about all things gardening, involving all pupils in this essential outdoor classroom environment and especially Our Secret Garden.
Secret Garden Harvest
Secret Garden Harvest
Using the Capital Growth Harvest-ometer we have logged everything we have harvested this Summer from our Secret Garden and our allotment at Woodlands Farm. We have harvested over £1400 worth of food, just over an amazing 200kg in weight! We have also contributed over 2800 meals to the Growing a Million Meals for London Campaign. Click on the image to see what we have harvested this summer!
The Secret Garden at Charlton Manor Primary School is named as one of the best in Britain. Keep Britain Tidy announces a record-breaking number of award-winning parks and green spaces for 2016/2017.
The Secret Garden is one of the very best school gardens in the UK – and that’s official. The green space is among a record-breaking number of parks and green spaces that have received a prestigious Green Flag Award.
The award, handed out by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, recognises and rewards the best parks and green spaces across the country. A Green Flag flying overhead is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent facilities.
We are absolutely delighted to receive a Green Flag Award for the third time from Keep Britain Tidy.
This Award recognises and highlights that pupils from Charlton Manor and the local community are benefitting from a green space of the very highest quality.
Keep Britain Tidy’s Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said “We are delighted to announce yet another record-breaking year for Green Flag Award parks and green spaces. “A Green Flag Award provides national recognition for all the parks managers, staff and volunteers who, through their dedication and hard work, have helped to create these fantastic places for everyone to enjoy”.
“Quality green spaces are a vital resource for communities and that is why it is so significant that we have given out more awards than ever before”.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Awarded: Silver Gilt Medal for the Miracle-Growers Urban School Garden
Bexley in Bloom
Awarded: Gold – 2nd Place Best School Garden
Awarded: Silver Gilt Best School Vegetable Plot
Awarded: Biggest Range of Produce Grown - Harvest-ometer Challenge 2015/2016
Our own forest school site within the school grounds is used by children from Foundation Stage 2 who are taken to a weekly two hour session which runs throughout the year in all weathers (unless the weather causes danger).
Each session is tailored to meet the needs of individuals in that group and is continuously developed as the children grow in confidence and develop their skills and understanding. The children have the time and space to explore the outdoor environment at their own pace. We take no boots or pencils. Instead the children use the natural resources around them. Each week we increase the resources that we supply such as digging tools, buckets, pots, baskets, silicone cake cases, paintbrushes, watering cans, water and the children supply the imagination!
In the past the children have enjoyed making mud pies and sculptures, mud painting, making muddy puddles to jump in, looking for mini beasts, natural art, making birds’ nests, making a variety of cakes such as snail cakes…..mmm! and lots of them had fun climbing trees!
Our Key Stage 1 children also attend forest school, weekly throughout the year but off site at a local secluded woodland local to our school. This is run by Wide Horizons and the area and the sessions are designed for this age range of children.
Forest School supports the holistic development of the child through multi-sensory, real life learning. It also supports the seven areas of learning as set out in the Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage document and is therefore a high quality learning experience…in fact it is a slice of free-range education and lots of fun!